Battle for power in Libya reaches the capital Tripoli

Battle for power in Libya reaches the capital Tripoli

Battle for power in Libya reaches the capital Tripoli

Eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar must heed global warnings to halt his advance on Libya's capital, Italy's foreign minister said, as powers from the G7 club said there could be no military solution to the country's power struggle.

Libyan Air Force's fighter jets.

Libya today is divided between two rival governments: one in the eastern city of Tobruk backed by Haftar and an internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli.

Ahmed al-Mesmari, spokesman for the self-styled Libyan National Army led by Hifter, said 14 troops had been killed since Hifter declared the offensive.

General Hifter's offensive on Tripoli could plunge the oil-rich country into another spasm of violence, possibly the worst since the 2011 civil war that toppled and led to the death of longtime dictator Moamar Gaddafi.

G7 foreign ministers meeting in France called on Gen Haftar to "halt all military activity and movements towards Tripoli".

Africa Command, known as Africom, said that due to "increased unrest in Libya, a contingent of US forces supporting US Africa Command temporarily relocated in response to security conditions on the ground".

Pro-GNA reinforcements from around Tripoli rushed to assist in driving back his forces.

Khalifa Haftar's order to the self-styled Libyan National Army came as United Nations chief Antonio Guterres was in Tripoli.

"We have stated quite clearly what our position is", Enzo Milanesi told reporters after the G7 meeting of foreign ministers.

The march appeared to have faced a set-back on Friday, however.

"We are the revolutionaries and the elders. we declare we are in full mobilisation and war", they said in a video statement posted online.

The alliance said it had named its operation "Ouadi Doum II" after an airbase in northern Chad where Libyan forces commanded by Haftar, then still loyal to Gaddafi, suffered a major reverse at the hands of the French air force in 1986. He said the soldiers' commander was being investigated. He didn't elaborate on the number of casualties.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj delivered a TV address on Saturday, saying he would defend the capital.

Local media outlets reported clashes as well in the vicinity of the old Tripoli International Airport, which has been seized by Haftar forces.

Rebel forces are advancing on Tripoli in a multi-pronged attack from the south and west of the city, although they have reportedly been slowed by pro-government fighters.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged "calm and restraint" as Haftar forces launched their push for control of the capital.

Hifter's militia is aligned with a separate administration based in eastern Libya. "I leave Libya with a heavy heart and deeply concerned". But they failed to detail enforcement mechanisms if the Libyan strongman refused to commit to a political solution. Both the Libyan National Army and the United Nations -backed government have various militias supporting them. Haftar has recently seized much of southern Libya without fighting.

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